One of the big complaints people have about airline fees is the ability to figure out exactly what’s being charged. It can be confusing but most of the sites that try to aggregate fees seem to only give you long lists that don’t really help that much. Now there’s a new site that takes the next step toward calculating fees for you. It’s better than most of what’s out there today, but it still has a ways to go before it’s truly a great option. Still, it’s the best we have so far, so if you have bag fee questions give iflybags.com a shot.
The site lets you enter your flight information and it spits out what bag fees will be. Here’s the advanced search screen:
You can enter your flight info and it will spit back how much your bag fees will be. It even lets you enter if you have elite status or not, so you can check to see if you’re exempt (though you likely know you’re exempt if you’re an elite). Where is all this data coming from? The airlines.
Most airlines file their fares and fare rules with a central clearinghouse called the Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO). ATPCO created a new category that lets airlines file their bag fees in a standardized manner, and this new site is just putting a pretty face on that data. So if the data isn’t filed correctly or isn’t filed at all, this site won’t help. But for the vast majority of trips that Americans take, this will work quite nicely. (Even Southwest participates.)
You can use the site two ways. You can either look up the fees for the number of bags you’re planning on checking, or you can just use the site as a reference to look up the airline bag fee policies. It gets pretty deep into the weeds – if you need to check a bow and arrow, this will help. Though the reference guide is really just a long list of bag fees and isn’t the most user-friendly.
This all sounds good, right? So why do I say that it has a ways to go? Because this is really only helpful if you know the flight you’re taking. If you bought that ticket on Delta and you want to know how much you’re going to have to shell out, that’s great. But what if you’re shopping around, looking for flights to a city and a lot of airlines pop up as options? Are you really going to look up every single flight’s bag fees after you find the fares for each one? I think not. If you do, you have way too much time on your hands.
What really needs to exist is a site where you can search for flights and then specify the number of bags you’ll check. That will be married with the price for each flight so you can make an informed decision.
The ability to do this is there – ATPCO has an XML feed that could be integrated by developers. It just has to happen. The company behind iflybags is Farelogix. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Farelogix is one of the companies that provides direct connect technology to help airlines bypass the Global Distribution Systems (GDS). You can be sure that Farelogix has a good reason to do this. It will once again help prove that direct connect technology doesn’t hide fees and make shopping more difficult. This is one example of that, but it’s a visible one and it’s good for consumers.
So, if you need bag fee info for your trip, this is the place to go. Hopefully we’ll see it integrated into a booking site soon enough.